Diwali is always special to me as it reminds me of good old memories since childhood. My normal routine on diwali day would be to get together with my cousins at my grandparents house to celebrate diwali and spend the entire day with everyone. Back then, we were excited about wearing new clothes and getting ready to burst crackers and pack on some pounds by enjoying all the sweet treats, especially my grandma's badam halwa/burfi (almond fudge). Almost like a tradition in the family, every single year, diwali breakfast would be accompanied by badam halwa... it kinda felt incomplete otherwise. Well, this tradition stuck with me, so after marriage, I continue to follow it by making this sweet every diwali (of course, with few others too).
Diwali is meant to be celebrated with friends and family. Although, its been a while since I celebrated diwali with my family, after all, friends are like family too. So, I started making badam burfi and chivda (savory snack made with puffed rice, nuts and some spices) to share with friends.
Badam burfi is an easy dish to make but just takes a little patience. It is probably one of the few dishes (as far as I can think of) that can be enjoyed in either scoopable or fudge-like consistency. It also happens to be the first time I am making this without using ghee (clarified butter) which I tend to use a bit liberally in this recipe. After trying it, I didn't miss the ghee at all and most of all, lot less guilt without any of the butter fat that would normally be added to it.
1 cup almonds, blanched
Few strands of saffron
1 tbsp vegan butter (optional) + little extra for greasing the pan (I used earth balance)
4 tbsp almond milk (or any milk of your choice)
Pinch of salt
For the sugar syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
Soak the almonds in hot water for one hour. Peel the skin and keep aside.
Make a paste with the almonds and little milk (not very fine but slightly coarse for texture). If you want a scoopable consistency (badam halwa), add about 6 tbsp milk.
As far as I know, the rule of thumb is to compare your almond paste and take equal measure or little less amount of sugar (the way I learnt it from mom) and add enough water to melt it for about 6-7 mins till it reaches a sticky consistency (also referred to as single string consistency).
Now, add the almond paste to the syrup and keep stirring. After 10-12 mins, add little vegan butter, pinch of salt and mix.
After 30-35 mins (around 25 mins for halwa), the paste starts becoming lumpy without sticking to the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and spread the paste on a greased cookie pan (lined with either parchment or wax paper) and smoothen the top to get an even layer.
Wait for about 6-8 mins until the mixture cools down and then cut into diamond shaped pieces or any other shape of your choice.
Here's a pic of the badam halwa (not sure if you can see the difference in consistency) which is softer than burfi but slightly firmer than halwa. This consistency works well if you want to send to friends, each wrapped individually in wax paper .
Makes 30-32 pieces (depends on how big or small you cut them).